As variety meats go brains are not often at the top of everyone’s shopping list and yet with a texture and delicate flavor akin to sweetbreads, rather than the stronger kidney and liver, perhaps they should creep higher.
Right across the world, brains from various four-legged animals that are popular in the locality are eaten and prepared in numerous styles. In Pakistan and nearby countries goat’s brains are served in spicy curry sauces while the Turkish prefer to poach their brains and arrange them on a simple salad. As the Chinese consume a lot of pork, pork brains are used in their recipes. They also believe that when eating an organ of an animal that this will enhance the corresponding human organ.
The Lebanese enjoy nothing more than a simple brain omelet whereas the Iranians like to boil a whole sheep’s head overnight to enjoy as Kaleh Pacheh a sort of breakfast stew where brains and all are consumed. Then later in the day brains, tomatoes and gherkins are nestled into a French baguette as a sort of brain sandwich. In Morocco they simmer their brains with paprika, cumin, garlic and preserved lemons for a delicious zesty dish. From the Deep South across to Portugal and over again to Austria, brains appear on the menu paired with scrambled eggs, perhaps their affinity has something to do with having such similar texture.
After the BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) problems calves brains are unavailable but lamb and sheep brains, which some say are the finest, are available. Brain is very perishable and should be used on the day of purchase. Grayish pink in color, the brains need to be soaked in frequently changed cold water for a couple of hours before delicately removing the fine membrane covering the brain. They can then be blanched before cooking in any manner of ways. One set of brains is enough per main course portion or two starters and at less than $5.00 per set remarkably inexpensive.
Chef Gordon Ramsey recently appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Kimmel, when asked if his four children were “good eaters” he replied that they were happy to wolf down anything from roast chicken to lamb’s brains on toast. The only problems for his kids are that just a 3oz serving of brains provides 709% of your daily cholesterol allowance.
Photos courtesy of flickr - Aban nesta electra steph